Traffic accidents are a common cause of injury in Pennsylvania. As a victim of a car accident, it is important to understand your rights and ability to seek financial compensation from the at-fault party. If you have the right to bring a claim against an at-fault driver, you or your Pittsburgh car accident attorney will need to establish the elements of fault using evidence.
Pennsylvania Fault Laws
Pennsylvania is one of three “choice no-fault” car insurance states. Under this unique rule, drivers have a choice of whether to purchase limited tort or full tort car insurance coverage. Limited tort insurance only permits a car accident victim to file a claim against the at-fault party for serious injuries. Full tort insurance, on the other hand, allows for a fault-based claim after any car accident.
Four Elements of Negligence
If you wish to bring a claim and hold someone else responsible for your car accident in Pennsylvania, prepare to use evidence to prove negligence. Negligence is the foundation for the majority of motor vehicle accident claims. It is the failure to use or exercise ordinary care. Establishing negligence requires evidence of four key elements:
- Duty: a duty of care is a legal responsibility or obligation to act in a certain way to prevent injury or harm to others. All drivers in the State of Pennsylvania have a duty of care to reasonably prevent auto accidents by paying attention to the road and obeying traffic laws.
- Breach of duty: an act or omission committed by the driver or defendant that fell short of the duty of care. A breach of duty can refer to anything that a reasonably prudent person would not have done in the same or similar circumstances, such as driving while drunk or distracted.
- Causation: proof that the defendant’s breach of the duty of care was the proximate or actual cause of the car accident; in other words, that the vehicle collision would not have occurred if not for the negligence of the defendant.
- Damages: actual, specific and compensable losses suffered by the car accident victim, such as property damage, lost wages, bodily injuries and medical bills.
If you or your attorney can show that the other driver involved in your car accident was negligent and that this caused the collision, you can recover financial compensation from that driver’s car insurance provider. Your personal injury lawyer in Pittsburgh can help you argue against the comparative negligence defense, if necessary, in which an insurance company attempts to blame you for the crash.
What Is the Burden of Proof in a Car Accident Claim in Pennsylvania?
A burden of proof is a standard of evidence that must be met to establish the validity of a legal claim. In the civil justice system, the burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence. This means evidence to show that what is being claimed is more likely to be true than not true, or true with at least a 51 percent certainty. The burden of proof rests with the plaintiff or filing party in a car accident claim in Pennsylvania.
Evidence Used in Car Accident Cases
Evidence that may be available for a victim to use to prove fault in a car accident case includes a police report, photographs, video footage of the accident, eyewitness statements, crash reconstruction and expert testimony. As an injured accident victim, hiring a car accident lawyer can make it easier to gather and present evidence to support your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. A lawyer will know how to prove fault and establish the elements of negligence to secure compensation for your losses. Learn more about establishing a car accident claim during a free case review at Dallas W. Hartman, P.C.